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Cleveland Artist Spotlights
Colleen Fraser was unsure of what she wanted her major to be in college until she took a ceramics class in high school. From then on, she knew her focus would be on art, so she decided to attend the Cleveland Institute of Art. The tricky part for her was choosing between fiber arts and ceramics. This decision was something she went back and forth on, particularly during her third year of college. After choosing to switch her major from ceramics to fiber arts during the spring semester of her third year of college, she elected over the summer before her fourth year to switch back to ceramics.
Fraser is the creator of the Edgewater tunnel mosaics located on the north end of West 65th Street in Cleveland. The mosaics represent local landmarks in a unique and colorful fashion. This project was something very different for Fraser because she had never done any mosaics in art school. The closest she ever came to doing mosaics was slab tiles, though her experience with fiber arts may have helped as well.
Fraser mentioned that the process to get the mosaics started actually took awhile. She made the drawings for the first wall down by the bike path in 2003 and got them approved that year, but the materials were not released until spring of 2004. The city wanted the mosaics to be finished in time for the July festivities. Though she did not really have the time, she somehow managed to get the entire wall done in a couple months. Fraser said that in order to get started on the project, she took photos of the different buildings she wanted to include in the work. She then got the photos enlarged to the scale she needed them at for the wall. One of the difficulties she faced was getting the dimensions correct because the wall she was working on is on a hillside, so often, the artwork is on a slant. She addressed this challenge beautifully as you can see in the work today. Her art has added fabulous color and texture to the public structure.
Fraser remembers long nights when she worked full-time for the City of Cleveland at the Bureau of Cultural Arts. She taught and really got some ceramics programs going in the recreation center. When she was not working at the center, she was at home working on art, often into the late hours of the night. This is one of the reasons she was excited to be chosen for the Creative Workforce fellowship. She knew it would allow her more time to focus on her art, which was great for her and the community who now has the pleasure of experiencing her work.